Measles: 189 cases in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot

Twenty cases were detected last week alone

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An outbreak of 189 cases of measles has been reported in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, Public Health Wales says.

It began in November but 20 cases have been notified in the last week and the total is more than for the whole of Wales in the last three years.

So far, 32 secondary schools, primary schools and nurseries are affected.

Parents are being urged to make sure their children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination.

The outbreak only affects the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area and eclipses the number of cases across the whole of Wales since 2010.

Last year's figure of confirmed cases for Wales stood at 116, while there were just 19 in 2011 and eight the year before, according to Public Health Wales.

There were 159 cases in 2009, still lower than the current outbreak in south west Wales.

MEASLES FACTS

  • It is a highly infectious viral illness
  • It causes a fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin
  • You catch measles by breathing in tiny droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Possible complications include pneumonia, ear and eye infections and croup
  • Serious complications include inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), which can be fatal
  • Measles in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, premature labour or a baby with low birth weight
  • The most effective way of preventing measles is the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism

Dr Marion Lyons, director of health protection for Public Health Wales (PHW), said: "We continue to be concerned at the number of cases of measles we are seeing in the Swansea and Neath Port Talbot areas.

"We cannot emphasise enough that measles is an illness that can kill, or leave patients with permanent complications including severe brain damage, and the only protection is two doses of the MMR vaccination."

She added that people most at risk of catching measles are children of school age who have not had two doses of MMR.

Children should receive the first dose of the vaccine at 12 to 13 months of age and the second at three years and four months of age

PHW estimates there are more than 8,500 school children at risk of measles in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg area.

Many people who catch measles will have a fever, cough, red eyes, and blocked nose and feel generally unwell.

The blotchy rash appears a few days later beginning on the face and spreading downwards to the rest of the body over several days.

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